Emergency Engine Cut-off Device: A switch or other system that when activated in an emergency, provides the means to stop the propulsion engine.
Every year there are a number of incidents where people are struck by boat propellers. The Engine Cut-Off System (ECOS) is designed to shut down the engine and stop the boat should the operator be separated from the operating area of the vessel. This action provides the operator the opportunity to regain control of the boat, thus preventing people in the water from being struck by an uncontrolled vessel.
The U.S. Coast Guard requires operators of vessels less than 26 feet in length that are equipped with an engine/propulsion cut-off device to use it while underway at greater than displacement speed. The Engine Cut-Off Switch Link must be attached to the operator, activated, and working properly whenever the boat is operating on plane or greater than displacement speed. “On plane” means the boat has reached a speed that moves the boat from a “displacement” mode to a “planing” mode. The Engine Cut-Off Switch Link does not need to be attached when the vessel is idling or performing docking
Vessel operators need to check the state ECOS laws for the area in which they are
operating to determine how these rules are applied and if additional vessels are
regulated. Approved devices include mechanical lanyards with switches and wireless
technology. The best advice to maintain compliance is to ensure its use.
Passengers should understand how to re-start the engine if needed should the operator fall overboard, and have a backup engine cut off system link (e.g., lanyard or ECOS key) for that purpose.
Check the function of the system prior to each departure as part of the pre-departure checklist. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper maintenance of your ECOS system. Operators need to ensure the proper operation of these devices prior to every voyage.